Book Review: The Book That Made Me edited by Judith Ridge

“There are books that you read that make you hold your breath. It’s only when you get to the end you realise you need to come up for air.”

Randa Abdah-Fattah, The Book That Made Me


The Book That Made Me is a celebration of the books that influenced some of the most acclaimed authors from Australia and the world. Inspirational. Affecting. A book for book lovers!



The Book That Made Me by Judith Ridge is a scrumptious collection of essays, poems, memoir and other pieces that celebrate and explore the books that influenced some very brilliant authors. Ridge is an expert on children’s and young adult fiction and this collection of 32 stories is the product of Ridge’s fascination with writers lives and books they read. What books helped shaped them into the writers they are today? These authors share the stories that challenged and inspired them on intellectual, creative or personal levels. The Books That Made Me is an utter joy to read! Now, I devoured this book in a single sitting and used a ridiculous amount of sticky notes to highlight my favourite parts; nearly every page had a point that I wanted to remember or share… Only I didn’t want to be writing a post that would have taken hours to read!! I have tried to pick out the moments that I loved the most…There were so many of the author’s stories that I identified with. Numerous times I found myself reading words that have spilled from my own mouth and it was really wonderful to read that others feel the same!

Randa Abdel-Fattah is a woman of my own heart. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta taught her that her experiences mattered. As an immigrant to Australia, Abdel-Fattah found herself getting lost among the absence of diversity in popular fiction. There were so few characters who broke the Anglo stereotypes. Marchetta opened the door for Abdel-Fattah to bring her own stories into the open – something I am very thankful for as a reader! I love the stories by both of these women!

Cathy Cassidy writes that a reader should never be ashamed of needing a little magic; “Reading is a magic carpet ride that can take you anywhere and everywhere, the perfect way to escape.” – I agree! There is no harm in escapism… not only does it take you away from whatever you’re wanting to leave, it can also bring you back feeling refreshed and inspired and ready to tackle whatever challenge is waiting for you…

Kate Constable slept with her favourite books under her pillow in the hope they would enter her dreams. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one…

Rachael Craw – one of my favourite voices in YA at the minute – loved Trixie Belden because she was a powerful female protagonist. She was flawed and made mistakes yet she was curious and bold and used her brain! Girl power!!

Benjamin Law found lessons in writing from Roald Dahl. Law learned to look for humour in tragedy and the potential for adventure in misery…

Will Kostakis remembers the moment he noticed the author behind the story and their intentions, “I had pulled back the curtain and spotted the wizard.” Kostakis wasn’t impressed and took to writing his own version of events. He writes that the books we don’t like can be just as beneficial as the ones we do!

Shaun Tan – an absolute legend – writes about how the best books have the widest readership. He says that readers of all ages should gain something from them, in particular, reference to children’s stories.

Bernard Beckett shares a delightful story of his two boys giggling out-of-control to an audio recording of Georges Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. “Storytelling in its purest form – some words, a voice – is compelling in a way no other medium can be.”

Ambelin Kwaymullina writes of the importance of voice and oral storytelling based on her Aboriginal heritage. Every story matters and they evolve with meaning by the different people who tell them over generations. Sharing stories of what has been is a way of seeing into the future…

Queenie Chan learnt that a good storyteller can make any story interesting.

Cath Crowley shares how “the right words, in the right order and rhythm, mess with you in exactly the right way”. Sometimes we read the story we most needed at that particular point in time.

The Book That Made Me is another must-read to add to your growing TBR pile… this book will definitely resonate with readers as an expression of everything there is to love about reading! This beautiful collection encourages readers to read without shame or prejudice. Any story in any medium – from autobiography to fantasy in print, audio or art form – has the power to transcend stories from ambiguous markings on a page to adventure, revelation, and understanding. All of the authors expressed the importance of identifying with stories in some way. Stories have the ability to express a reader’s deepest fears and anxieties, their curiosities, and other various emotions. Reading is the perfect opportunity to learn and identify with the experiences of others. It gives the reader the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes.


AUTHOR: Various, edited by Judith Ridge

ISBN: 9781922244888

PUBLISHER: Walker Books Australia

RRP: $19.99

PUB DATE: September 2016


Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!


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